Does technology help or hurt learning? Evidence from middle school and high school students
(1) University Laboratory High School, Urbana, Illinois, (2) Concordia International School, Shanghai, China, (3) University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
In this study, we examined the effect of technology use on middle and high school students’ learning effectiveness. Based on prior literature, we hypothesized that device use at school would increase students’ learning effectiveness (H1), but that device use at home would decrease learning effectiveness (H2). To test our hypotheses, we conducted a survey of middle and high school students across different states in the United States. We measured the device use and learning effectiveness by asking participants to report their actual device use time both at school and at home and to rate the extent to which their learning met their expectations on a 7-point Likert-type scale. We found partial support for H1. While we did not find an overall positive relation between technology use at school and learning effectiveness, we found such effects among male students and middle school students. Consistent with H2, we found strong support for a negative effect of technology use at home on learning effectiveness. Further, this negative effect was exacerbated for female students and middle school students. Taken together, these results provide evidence suggesting that the effect of technology use on learning depends on where the device is used, the gender of students, and the grade in which students are in. Furthermore, we conducted additional analyses to shed light on how technology use benefits learning. Our results suggest that technology use improves learning mainly by facilitating collaboration, enabling more personalized learning, improving organization, allowing teachers to provide more timely feedback, and making learning more effective.
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